The Hanley Courthouse and Federal Building, located in downtown Syracuse, N.Y., is the northern anchor of a newly revitalized downtown historic district, Armory Square, which boasts restaurants, taverns, nightclubs, boutiques and art galleries. The Hanley Building Plaza, which measures slightly over an acre, is the location for the “Party in the Plaza,” a weekly summertime event hosted by the GSA, the City of Syracuse, and the Updowntowners Association. The “Parties” are held on the plaza on Wednesday evenings from 5:00 to 8:00 PM. Admission is free. A different local band provides entertainment each week; several vendors offer a variety of foods, and beer, wine and soda are served.

Owned by: The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).

Managed by: The GSA Property Management Center.

Management Program

Maintenance: The GSA Property Management Office handles normal daily maintenance of the Plaza. The Syracuse Updowntowers handle all of the sanitation arrangements, as well as clean the plaza every Wednesday after the event.

Security and Hospitality: The Syracuse Updowntowners Association provides its own security for the event by hiring off-duty police officers with trained canines. In addition, federal security officers provide coverage at the Federal building 24 hours a day, and provide security checks throughout the event.

Programming

The Syracuse Updowntowners Association is a non-profit civic organization committed to revitalizing economically the Syracuse Central Business District. Since its inception in 1980, the Updowntowners have participated in hundreds of events to promote downtown Syracuse, with benefits going to dozens of charitable groups. The organization has raised funds in excess of $3,000,000.

Marketing & Promotion: Currently the availability of the Federal plaza is not promoted; most groups wishing to hold an event on the Federal plaza approach GSA on their own. The Party in the Plaza, however, has grown so large, often attracting as many as 3,000 people, that it has become a major force in revitalizing downtown Syracuse. A local radio station broadcasts live from the plaza, and film footage is often shown on the Wednesday late news. The businesses in Armory Square link their summer advertising to the “Parties in the Plaza,” and parking garages and lots remain open on Wednesday evenings in order to benefit from the event.

Problems

One of the early major challenges that the GSA faced was to decide what role the Federal government would take in the “Parties.” Initially, the GSA was providing minimal security, sanitation, and restroom accomodations inside the building. However, as attendance grew into the thousands, and security concerns heightened, these contributions became impractical. The GSA Field Office now provides a secure room for counting money, and limited access to and storage in the building. The Updowntowners now provide their own portable restrooms (delivered and removed the same day), cleaning, and most of the security. The Field Office also finds it helpful to work closely with the individuals producing the event to make sure that all promotions are consistent with Government rules regarding what may take place on Federal property.

Funding

No GSA funding is used.

Capital Investment: No GSA funding is used.

Lessons

The Field Office finds it essential to work closely with the individuals producing the event to ensure that all promotions, displays, etc. are consistent with government rules and regulations as to what may take place on Government property. In its infancy, the Parties in the Plaza drew only 50-100 people. Over the years, the sponsors have refined the process and continually improved the event, which has evolved from a small cooperative effort into a major cultural and economic boom for the city. The formula for this type of event is now highly developed, and can be duplicated by any downtown area. In 1998, the GSA received the Updowntowners “Award for Excellence,” presented annually to the individual, business or organization that has contributed substantially to the benefit of the downtown area.

Contacts:

Joan Grennan, Syracuse Building Manager
General Services Administration
(315) 448-0976

Frank Santella, Director
Upstate Property Management Center, GSA
(315) 448-0923

William Cooper, President
Syracuse Updowntowners Association
(315) 471-0363